And So Much for That

by Casey Barrett

Thorpedo Fails to Launch… 12th in 200 free at Aussie Trials

Despite every sign, I refused to believe it. I just couldn’t conceive of Ian Thorpe failing like this. He seemed to have prepared (convinced?) himself for this outcome awhile back, but I suppose I thought it was his way of managing those crushing external expectations.

Turns out, the sad fact is that Thorpe just no longer has it.

Yesterday in the 200 free at Aussie Trials, he delivered a respectable morning swim of 1:49.1 – good enough for 5th place. Since the Aussies aren’t quite as deep as the Americans, the best among them can cruise a bit through the heats. Checking out Thorpe’s prelims splits it looked like he might have just shut it down on the back half. His split at the 100 – 51.7 – was by far the fastest of the bunch. But then he was crawling home, in a weak 29.2. Appears he wasn’t just conserving energy. It wasn’t there.

In the semifinal later that night, he relaxed a bit going out, flipping in 52.1. He was still in the game but fading badly at the 150, with his 3rd 50 over a second slower than his 2nd. And then… nothing.

1:49.91. 12th Place.

His last lap was slower, by significant margins, than all but one of the Aussie semifinalists.

There was a time when that last lap was a thing of beauty. When his feet went into overdrive and accelerated away from the field. Just like Phelps and Lochte and Biedermann, and the rest of the guys we so hoped he’d be racing in London…

Thorpe still has the 100 left. Maybe he’ll sneak onto the Team with a 5th or 6th place finish and return to the Games as a relay alternate. But the Aussies are currently the favorites for gold in the men’s 4×100 free relay, and it’s clear Thorpe is not close to the league of his young compatriots who’ll be on that relay in the London final.

Goes without saying that Thorpe handled the disappointment with class. No surprise there.

But here’s one comeback junkie who probably should have never gone back to the sauce…